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At long last, Albert Pujols will get his historic ball back.
The Los Angeles Angels first baseman reached 2,000 RBIs in spectacular fashion on Thursday with his 639th career home run, but because he hit the ball out of the field of play, the team couldn’t immediately secure the ball.
The Tigers fan who caught the ball, Ely Hydes, initially rebuffed offers to give the ball to the Angels. But after sleeping on it, Hydes told the Detroit News on Friday that he would give the ball to Pujols for no reward.
"All I ever wanted was to sleep on it," Hydes said. "I slept on it and I woke up and I think [Pujols] is a class act.
"He's not my player, he's not my guy, I don't deserve the ball.”
Immediately after the game, Tigers staff made several offers to Hydes for the ball. The club initially offered an autographed Pujols baseball in return and eventually upped its offer to also include a jersey, memorabilia from Tigers star Miguel Cabrera and a chance to meet Pujols.
The Tigers pointed out that Major League Baseball could not authenticate the ball because of chain-of-custody concerns — rendering the ball worthless to sell — but that didn’t stop an Angels fan from reportedly offering him $25,000 for the ball. Still, Hydes appeared happy to keep the ball for his own enjoyment.
For what it’s worth, Pujols did not seem too concerned about not getting to keep the ball. Maybe $344 million makes it easier to get over small hiccups.
“I told the guys, ‘Just leave it. Just let him have it,’” Pujols said after the game. “I think he can have a great piece of history with him. When he looks at the ball, he can remind himself of this game. I don’t fight about it. I think we play this game for the fans, too, and if they want to keep it, I think they have the right to. I just hope he can enjoy it.”
Hydes may not come away with money or Pujols memorabilia from the experience, but he will come away with another prize. According to the Detroit News, after hearing about his love for their franks, Hebrew National will send him a summer's supply of hot dogs.
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